Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Byfuglien's Hat-Trick Propels Hawks over Canucks
The win was gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 series lead, and they played a strong game. From a Chicago perspective, goaltender Antti Niemi weathered the Canucks early storm with some great saves, and the Blackhawks capitalized on their opportunities.
Virtually every goal the Hawks scored tonight was in a goal mouth scramble, within about 5 feet of the net. The Blackhawks played a simple north-south game, put pucks to the net, put bodies in front and definitely had their share of bounces.
It seemed that every puck in front of the Vancouver net wound up on a Blackhawk stick, while pucks in the Blackhawks crease wound up on a Hawk stick.
The Canucks came out flying and owned the first half of the first period, but the Hawks had a 1-0 lead on an opportunistic play that they capitalized on. The Hawks then received a powerplay and converted to make it 2-0 after one.
In the second period the Canucks pressed yet again and Jannik Hansen netted a goal to bring the Canucks within one. With momentum now clearly on their side, the Blackhawks iced the puck and a tired Chicago line was set to defend against the Canucks' Sedin line deep in the Chicago zone. However, an untimely and undisciplined penalty by Alexandre Burrows after the whistle resulted in a Chicago powerplay.
Chicago converted and led 3-1. It took the Canucks a few minutes to make up that ground, as Burrows redeemed himself with a nice wrist shot on an odd-manned rush. The score was 3-2 Chicago after two.
In the third period, the Canucks had a powerplay and could have tied the game, but squandered yet another chance with the man advantage (0 for their last 8), which resulted in Chicago's fourth goal moments after.
Dustin Byfuglien then netted his hat-trick goal on a controversial play where Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien both charged and bumped Roberto Luongo into his own net. But that was not the only questionable play on the evening.
The Canucks shot themselves in the foot with poor coverage in front of Luongo, took a couple of ridiculous penalties, and failed to win the special teams battle yet again.
That being said, momentum shifted multiple times on poor officiating yet again. The ongoing theme of crease-crashing was certainly a theme tonight, especially on the fifth goal of the evening when Kane and Byfuglien pushed Luongo into his own net, unable to make a save on a puck that dribbled over the line.
The damage may have been done earlier though in the first period when Daniel Sedin failed on a chance in close, goaltender Antti Niemi threw his stick (which warrants a penalty shot), without any restitution to Vancouver. Later in the period, Pavol Demitra took a very questionable hooking penalty to take Vancouver off the powerplay when Marian Hossa drove the net and lost control of the puck on his own.
Matters were only compounded later on when Jonathan Toews fell on Luongo as well.
Despite the questionable calls and missed calls, the Canucks failed to bury their chances, failed to win the special teams battle, and really did not appear to want this game as badly as the Chicago Blackhawks.
Interestingly, the Sedin twins were right in the middle of scrums this evening. The twins are seldom seen losing their cool but were visibly frustrated, especially when Daniel Sedin and Dave Bolland took coincidental penalties and continued chirping in the penalty box.
For Game 4 on Friday, the Canucks will need to establish a net presence, play tougher in front of their own net, and the Sedin twins must deliver if Vancouver is to tie the series at two games apiece.